PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The University of New England is making sure everyone knows that its new dental school is opening next year, despite the fact that its state bond funding has been delayed. The dental school will be the only one in Northern New England. UNE held an event Thursday to celebrate the fact that the dental school is coming in 2013, and DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew was among the speakers.
The Patient Care Center, that is to be funded by 3.5 million dollars in state bond money, is already under construction. UNE expected that money this year. However, Governor LePage announced earlier this summer he was not ready to issue bonds that affect this project and many others in the state. He has 5 years to act on voter approved bonds.
Still, university officials were quick to praise the state's commitment to the project. James Koelbl, the founding Dean of the College of Dental Medicine, called the delay in the bond funding a "blip."
"We understand that," he said. "We understand Maine, like many states, is undergoing financial stress. We're happy to have the governor's support.
Commissioner Mayhew also said that the governor is simply delaying borrowing, and that he believes the dental school is important to improve the oral health of Mainers across the state. Mayhew said, "The governor is committed to ongoing support of this project and the issuance of the bond. It is simply a matter of timing."
UNE is looking at alternative ways to finance the project -- but the University's President says she has no doubt that dental students will be on campus next year. The dental school expects to enroll 46 students in 2013, and they'll train on simulators in the Patient Care Center.